Micro-credentials for Me: Personal Stories from Real Teachers - Digital Promise

Micro-credentials for Me: Personal Stories from Real Teachers

Micro-credentials provide educators with recognition for the skills they learn throughout their careers, regardless of where or how they learned them. They create the opportunity for educators to reach specific, action-oriented goals and direct their professional learning in their classrooms and on their schedules.

I think the most important thing I got from the micro-credentialing experience was something that I've tried to do my entire career: How can you continue to improve your craft? You don't want to remain static in what you're doing.
Jaime Dudash
Teacher, Dexter Community Schools

Micro-credentials are competency-based. To earn a micro-credential, educators select a specific skill they want to demonstrate, collect evidence of that skill, and submit it for assessment by experts. If their evidence shows competence, they earn the micro-credential in the form of a digital badge. Educators can share their earned micro-credentials with colleagues, administrators, and parents.

Digital Promise interviewed educators across the country to understand the impact micro-credentials have had on their practice, classrooms, and students. Through these interviews, many themes emerged. Educators find that micro-credentials empower them to drive their professional learning, strengthen their classroom practice, and provide room for reflection. Perhaps most importantly, educators find that micro-credentials improve student learning and engagement.

Below, hear directly from these educators about what micro-credentials mean to them.

Professional Growth and Empowerment

Compared to the “one size fits most” approach of traditional professional development, micro-credentials empower educators to drive their own learning. Educators can select and demonstrate skills and competencies they already have, or identify new skills to meet the needs of their students or their own personal goals. As a result of this personalized professional learning, educators experience professional growth and increased satisfaction. Often, educators who complete micro-credentials become advocates for competency-based professional learning in their schools and districts.

I think it's really something that you can do on your own, set your own pace, set your own schedule, and take it where you want to go, versus being told what to do.
Tracey Albert
Teacher, Seminole County Public Schools

Marc Walls, a secondary science teacher in Clarksville, TN, explains:

I would do a micro-credential again because it has helped me to not only reflect better and be more intentional and thoughtful but it's actually given me practical choice in what I get to do and pursue.
Allison Ball
Teacher, Kingsport City Schools
You're able to learn online, get valuable resources, and then also have support online and within your district to be able to start doing those small steps to implement whatever it is you're learning.
Sara Shaffer
Teacher, Kingsport City Schools

Strengthening Classroom Practice

Through micro-credentials, educators can identify and use specific methods and approaches that lead to real classroom change. Because micro-credentials are competency-based, educators have the opportunity to apply the skills they learn in their practice—moving their learning from theoretical to immediately applicable. And, they find that the practices they tried through the micro-credentials stick with them.

Educators also receive valuable feedback from expert assessors on the evidence they submit to earn micro-credentials, providing clear avenues for improvement and growth. Educators find that micro-credentials encourage them to continue to attempt new approaches.

While we were working on this micro-credential in my classroom, I was learning and my students were learning as well. We had multiple opportunities to achieve the skill in the micro-credential together. Then, as I worked through that, I was able to see evidence of their growth and then use that as the evidence in my micro-credential.
Rachel Heaton
Teacher, Kingsport City Schools

Brian Koster, an Algebra teacher at Florida Virtual School, told us about his experience with the Growth Mindset micro-credential:

The language in the classroom changed. They knew that failure was an option because we can learn from failure and it was not going to be the end of the road for us.
Allison Ball
Teacher, Kingsport City Schools
Professional learning fits into my day-to-day. I was able to do it after school. Learn a little bit more, and then take the knowledge that I grabbed from my micro-credential and put it in right into the classroom.
Rosa lgna Fernandez
Teacher, Seminole County Public Schools

Deepening a Culture of Reflective and Powerful Learning

To earn a micro-credential, educators must often include reflections on the impact of the skill they are demonstrating or the evidence they are submitting. Typically, educators rarely have the time and space to examine the impact of their classroom practices, or consider how a shift in approach affects student learning or their own self-efficacy. Micro-credentials provide a structured way for educators to build reflection into their professional learning process.

In districts where educators worked on micro-credentials together, colleagues embraced reflection and incorporated it into other parts of their practice. Similarly, they found more opportunities to use competency-based learning in their classrooms after the process was modeled for them through micro-credentials. Educators say they continue to incorporate reflection into their daily practice long after they completed their micro-credentials.

I would do a micro-credential again because it has helped me to not only reflect better and be more intentional and thoughtful but it's actually given me practical choice in what I get to do and pursue.
Allison Ball
Teacher, Kingsport City Schools

Jill Snell, a Resource Teacher in the Office of Organizational Development from Baltimore County Public Schools, sees micro-credentials as a model for lifelong learning:

The power of micro-credentials, for me, is the ability to be reflective on my teaching, to really look at what I have done in the past, what I want to do in the future, identify my areas of weakness, and see still, how can I improve as an educator.
Karen Grimm
Teacher, Seminole County Public Schools
The power of micro-credentials for me, is just strengthening a community of teacher learners within a building. I have first grade teachers collaborating with fifth grade teachers. And we're all working together towards the same goal.
Ashley Carter
Instructional Design Specialist, Kingsport City Schools

Improving Student Learning and Engagement

When educators share their micro-credential experiences with their students, the students see the educators as lifelong learners. Educators found that their willingness to be vulnerable and openly struggle increased student engagement in the process and helped students understand that educators are open to improvement and growth, too. Similarly, educators found that the new approaches they tried through the micro-credentials had an impact on student learning and engagement in real and palpable ways.

(The students) became owners of their learning and were more motivated to look at what they were doing and where they were going.
Dawn Trenholm
Teacher, Seminole County Public Schools

Marc Walls, a secondary science teacher in Clarksville, TN, shares the change he sees in himself and in his students:

It makes me feel very proud as a teacher, seeing that they're listening to the feedback, and doing the revisioning work, and taking pride in their school work.
Sara Shaffer
Teacher, Kingsport City Schools
I observed my kids in the classroom to see how they responded to the changes that I had made. I saw a lot of benefits for the kids. The micro-credential opened my eyes to ways I could've rearranged the room so that students could have easier access to the learning activities that I was presenting to them.
Betsy Bluhm
Teacher, Dexter Community Schools

Takeaways and Next Steps

Educators have a lot to say about micro-credentials. They find that micro-credentials help them personalize their learning and empower them to push their skills even farther. They believe micro-credentials can strengthen their classroom practice and create pathways for growth and improvement. Similarly, micro-credentials provide opportunities for reflection that educators rarely get. And finally, educators see the impact of micro-credentials on student engagement and learning.

If you’re ready to bring competency-based professional learning to your classroom, school, or district, you can learn more about micro-credentials by visiting the Digital Promise Micro-credential Platform.

Join our micro-credential community on Twitter with the hashtag #MC4Me.

This report was made possible with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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